Michael Gerard Tyson is without a doubt the most hip-hop athlete in sports history. Dude's humble beginnings, astonishingly fast-paced path to become the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history, subsequent self-destruction after his peak, and reincarnation as a pop culture icon decades later is a script unlike any other. Iron Mike turns 45 today, and as a salute to the champ we're listing the illest lyrical references from Nas, Pac, LL, Jadakiss, Spoonie Gee, and a slew of others. From slick lines about his ferocity and skills in the ring to the rape charge and controversies outside of it, we give you Complex's 20 Favorite Mike Tyson Rap References...
20. Large Professor f/ Pete Rock, "The Rap World" (1996)
LYRIC: "We throw blows to the dome like Tyson/Suspend your rap license/Kid bring on the cake plus the icing" (Pete Rock)
COMPLEX SAYS: In the same year that Iron Mike made his return to the ring after a three-year bid, this rare cut off the High School High soundtrack dropped. The Chocolate Boy Wonder teams up with the Mad Scientist in what should've been the beginning of an entire album. Word to Jaylib. #whatcouldvebeen
19. Dr. Dre f/ LL Cool J, "Zoom" (1998)
LYRIC: "Nuff to burn, 10 mill sales confirmed/The most anticipated since Tyson's return" (Dr. Dre)
COMPLEX SAYS: In their only recorded collab, LL and Dre came together for the Bulworth soundtrack. Iron Mike made his return to take back both the WBA and WBC titles in 1996. Dre came back in '99 with the multi-platinum selling The Chronic 2001. As for Detox, the wait continues...
18. Showbiz & A.G., "Fat Pockets" (1992)
LYRIC: "But the sex I never take/Cuz if that bitch screams rape like Mike Tyson, I'm upstate." (A.G.)
COMPLEX SAYS: We'll never truly know what went down between Mike Tyson and Desiree Washington in that Indianapolis hotel room. But Iron Mike was never the same after that charge. Is homie still salty today? Lawry's, son. Lawry's.
17. Spoonie Gee, "Mighty Mike Tyson" (1987)
LYRIC: "He don't float like a butterfly or sting like a bee/But he's the hardest damn puncher you'll ever see."
COMPLEX SAYS: By 1987, Tyson had 29 wins; 27 by KO. In one of the earliest Tyson hip-hop references, the Godfather of Rap pays to tribute the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history. Salute from one legend to another? Yes, yes y'all.
16. Big Daddy Kane, "Put Your Weight On It" (1990)
LYRIC: "My sharp tongue is like a license/I strike like Mike Tyson, I be icin'/Breakin' the mic in half, just like a psychopath."
COMPLEX SAYS: Kane put all sucka MCs on notice while going Tyson over classic break beats. Meanwhile, Iron Mike was carrying his undefeated record of 37-0 into the new decade. No half-steppin' from these two BK natives.
15. LL Cool J, "I'm Bad" (1987)
LYRIC: "I'm Mike Tyson, icin', I'm a soldier at war/Makin' sure you don't try to battle me no more."
COMPLEX SAYS: LL used to be cool with Mike (word to this somewhat pause-worthy photo), until Canibus came along. More on that a little later...
14. DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, "I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson" (1989)
13. RZA ft. Dr. Doom, Ghostface Killah & Ms. Roxy, "Holocaust" (1998)
LYRIC: "Unfaithfully married to rap, we been engaged for 12 years/Tyson bit Holyfield ear, we love the sport" (Ghostface Killah)
COMPLEX SAYS: It doesn't get more gritty in the rap game than Toney and everyone knows Iron Mike is the gulliest dude to ever step in the ring. Now, what the hell is Ghostface talking about here? Fuck it, give us eight ravioli bags.
12. The B.U.M.S., "Wreck Your Ears (Can Do)" (1995)
11. Lil Wayne, "Oh No" (2005)
LYRIC: "Tonight I might just boost my feature price/Cuz to each its own and the lights is bright/And I'm feelin' like Mike at a Tyson fight"
COMPLEX SAYS: You know one of the rap game's biggest sportsheads and frontrunners had to have an Iron Mike reference in there somewhere. But if Weezy was feeling like Tyson back in '05, who is he now? Ali? Larry Holmes? Let debate among stans and haters begin...now!
10. Bun B, "Let 'Em Know" (2010)
LYRIC: "And who can fuck wit us?/Better bring your mic game/Mike Jordan, Mike Tyson, Big Mike mayne/Big dough, big flow, big fight game."
COMPLEX SAYS: Similar to the way B.I.G. did it on the "Victory" track Bun came through with this slick play on words while bigging up some of the best Mikes to ever do it. Bun B on a Premo beat? 'Nuff said. Sidebar: We're still waiting for a rapper to give Michael Olowokandi and other scrub Mikes a shout-out...
9. Lil Wayne, "Mike Tyson Flow" (2008)
LYRIC: "Like mutha'fuck all y'all/Mr. Mike Tyson flow, uppercut all y'all/Step into my ring bitches, ding ding bitches"
COMPLEX SAYS: Tunechi names a song after the boxing Hall of Famer and samples a classic interview. Too bad the mixtape had more of a Klitschko steez to it. C'mon, Weezy!
8. Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo, "Poison" (1988)
LYRIC: "With Polo and while he's slicin'/I'll turn the mic's last name into Tyson."
COMPLEX SAYS: Another simple yet slick rap reference to the Baddest Man on the Planet. At 42, and with over two decades in the game, G Rap has yet to take a major L. Well, besides wifin' Superhead back in the day. SMH.
7. Jadakiss, "None of Y'all Better" (2001)
LYRIC: "If I don't like you, I'ma kill you, not fight you/I'll bite a little piece of your ear off like Mike do."
COMPLEX SAYS: Kiss is ruthless on the mic like Tyson was in the ring. Nom, nom, nom, nom, nom.
6. Nas, "Nas Is Like" (1999)
LYRIC: "Nas is like..Iron Mike, Messiah type/Before the Christ, after the death/The last one left."
COMPLEX SAYS: Boxing has never seen another like Tyson and probably never will. Don't believe us? We'll let Mike tell it.
5. 2pac, "Letz Get It On" (1996)
LYRIC: "Oh no, 2pac with Team Tyson/Seldom was seldom seen/Iron Mike cut his head like a guillotine"
COMPLEX SAYS: If you're up on your Mike Tyson factoids, you would know he and Pac were close friends. Or maybe you young'ns just peeped the ESPN 30 for 30 One Night In Vegas flick. Mike made his entrance to the ring the night Pac was killed to this song; he was even in the tunnel waiting to congratulate his boy after a first-round dismantling of Bruce Seldon. Makes sense that two of the greatest yet most controversial figures in their respective lanes would be homies. #realrecognizreal
4. Nas, "The World Is Yours" (1994)
LYRIC: "I'm amped up/They locked the champ up, even my brains in handcuffs/Headed for Indiana, stabbin' women like the Phantom."
COMPLEX SAYS: We were amped too, Nasty; we were amped, too. A lil piece of us died when Tyson had to do that bid up in Indiana. Then we we're even more disappointed to see Iron Mike go back to that "wretched, slimy, reptilian motherfucker." SMH, what things could've been like if Cus D'Amato had still been around. R.I.P.
3. Canibus, "2nd Round K.O." (1998)
2. Nas, "Legendary" (2008)
LYRIC: Entire song.
COMPLEX SAYS: From hustlin' on the streets of Brownsville to star power in countries across the globe, to this day a lot of folks don't know how much Mike meant to the ghetto. Leave it to the Pharaoh Nas to break down the champ's bio on this track which appeared in the Tyson documentary.
1. Puff Daddy f/ Notorious B.I.G. & Busta Rhymes, "Victory" (1997)
LYRIC: "Real sick, brawl nights, I perform like Mike/Anyone -- Tyson, Jordan, Jackson/Action, pack guns, ridiculous" (Notorious B.I.G.)
COMPLEX SAYS: Frank White delivers one of his most timeless lines, still relevant today just like Iron Mike. Good enough for a top spot here and good enough for a high place on another lil list we did.